Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Rain, beer and then more rain - it's Summertime in Galway!

Can’t think, can’t write, trying to make it successfully through a difficult period, but refuse to let down my colyoomistas.

So by way of a total cop-out, here are a couple of auld Summer colyooms, one dedicated to the rain, rain rain rain ha ha ha rain Summer rain, the other a quick snapshot of your colyoomist, back in those drunken days when I faced up to a night out in Galway City in the same way that a prize-fighter takes on his opponent...

July 1999.
The Riddle of Galway?

Ahh, the relief of finally lying down ... as that cruelly early Galway Summer dawn appears from behind the curtain ...ooohhhhh ... god, bed feels good.

Now, time to check the spin-ometer. Just close the eyes for a few seconds, see if the insides of my head are of a mood to start challenging the laws of centrifuge, physics, Copernicus and Pat Kenny.

Nope. Brain and senses feel calm and stationary.


Next see if the ooo ... aaahhh ... eee ...contents of my distended stomach are going behave themselves, or prove Newton’s laws of motion, acton and reaction kind of thing.

Well, there’s no lack of activity in my voluminous belly, where happy groups of assorted and varied ingredients are lovingly forming themselves into a peristaltic bullet train, bound for express travel to Morning town.

Lovely. Smashed but safe and intact.

As I strain to lift my head to see if the Scores on the Time Doors say 4:30am or 5:00am, the Snapper soothes my partied brow.

“Ssshhhssshhh ... you’ve been feeding the Beast, babe, that’s all. You know how Galway City loves to be fed excess...”

So true, so very true, and the day being the Guru’s birthday, I had drained it of every drop of celebration there was to be had in it.

A riddle for Galway occurs to me, worthy of the Sphinx herself.

In which city can you step out in the morning on two legs, walk all day alongside many legs, and return to lie down, legless?

June 2008.
Is the pint as long as the shower, or the other way around?

The Summer Galway afternoon sky holds a million possibilities. Light grey clouds float above dark grey clouds, hanging below the canopy of the billowing thunderstorm anvil.

Scattered cracked saucers of blue show through, and the rain has abated.
Well, at least, for the moment.

Time to leave my friend’s house and walk home, but before I reach the bottom of his cul-de-sac, the rain begins to fall. Sure, it’s only a shower, and if I’m walking I’m walking.

Down the hill, and the rain is holding off. Good thing too, really, because these drops are not soft. These drops are not mist. These drops are Galway Summer Style‘n’Fashion Mother of All Wet-Making Drops, soaking, permeating, getting down to business drops that have one purpose in life: to seek flesh through cotton.

Being a bloke means that you’re not allowed to stop walking to do your coat up. You have to keep walking as you do it, or risk being misinterpreted as a man of less than wholesome substance. So whilst moving at full speed, my hands are flailing below my line of vision. To a stranger it must look as if I’m trying to read my waxed cotton jacket in braille. Without looking down like a sensible human being to see what I’m doing, lest I lose a moment of momentum, I struggle to wrap the collar flap around my oak tree neck. Ah, now, here comes the rain.

Now, wouldn’t you think I learned something useful in my 16 years in Ireland, beyond my affected Irish use of ‘now’ and ‘wouldn’t’?

Didn’t I learn how to deal with the rain?
Didn’t I learn to take shelter, because for 360 days of the year, the weather in the West of Ireland comes as sunshine and showers?
Didn’t I learn that these showers were the reason everybody clears the streets to take shelter in shops? A shower of Galway rain lasts just exactly the same time it takes to pour and drink a pint of the black, so the shower was the very reason that, back in days of yore, a barrel of beer arrived in the back of every wee shop.

So when you arrive in a tiny West of Ireland town that has two shops and 47 pubs, you can blame the nature of the shower.

Sheltering under a bush at the side of the road, I’m feeling smug in a ‘I’m not a local, but hey, I’m no tourist either’ kind of way. The rain stops, and I emerge into the steamy sunshine, walk on, waaaalk on, with my head held high, chin shiny and dry.

And then the rain really comes. The universe sensed my hubris, and now I will truly be punished. There is no ambiguity about this sky. It is black, heavy and low. As I round the crest of the hill the rain kicks up two gears, turning into flash-flood sub-tropical downpour.

I know it can’t last at this level long, because we’re temperate in these parts, but shelter is now out of the question. I am going to get drenched to the skin, and, well, that’s okay. The Irish have a word for it. You have to get drownded once in a while.

The Irish get drownded.
The English get drenched.
They both hit my mark.

My hair is sodden, dripping floods into my eyes, and now I cannot see through my glasses, which are steamed and under torrential attack. Crossing by the lights at the top of Taylor’s Hill, I head down Threadneedle Road towards the Prom, deranged, repeating over and over to myself

“Do not miss the footpath out to the left. Do not miss the footpath out to the left.”
Onwards, onwards, until I lift up my glasses and peer out to see I have, of course, missed the bloody footpath.

Turning around and heading back up the hill, I stumble into what I think is the footpath, which turns out instead to be a block of flats, and then the rain goes into overdrive again. Now I’m in the zone. Carefreeeee however wet I’ll beeeee. Lollopping back down towards the Prom, I am slapping flappy-dapping around in my sodden wet jeans with insane abandon, laughing out loud crazy, not giving a damn.

“Okay!” I yell to the skies,”You’ve shown me who is boss, and I accept. I am worthless. Thank you!”

Yet even the joy of that fleeting moment of acceptance is taken from me, for as I turn into my own street, all the clouds disappear, the sun comes out, and I am steaming in my saturated clothes under a hot clear blue sky before I turn the key in my front door.

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